February 2018

He 162 Volksjager

Ki-44 Shoki (Tojo)

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Heinkel He 162 Volksjager

3/JG.1 Luftwaffe  Leck Air Base, Germany April 1945.

FROG 1/72

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Background Image: a Ki-100 (the replacement for the Ki-44) at the RAF Cosford Museum

Nakajima Ki-44 IIb Shoki - Allied code name TOJO

70th Army Fighter Squadron, Kashiwa Air Base, Japan, June 1945.

Aircraft of Captain Yosio Yoshida IJA,

Hasegawa 1/72

Like many Japanese designs, it suffered from the lack of strategic planning and co-operation brought on by competition for resources between the Japanese Army Air Force and the the Japanese Navy Air Service. Its seemingly incongruous fat nose and slim tail arose because the only available engine had been designed for bomber use and was wider than desirable. mall wings giving a very high landing speed that caused serious difficulties for inexperienced pilots.

  However ,its excellent rate of climb and heavy armament made it a useful counter to the B-29 Superfortresses of the USAAF and it became a production priority during the last year of the war.

Tojos were used across the Pacific theatre from 1941 onward, but toward the end of the war were concentrated around the home islands. In the final months of WW2, some aircraft were also used in suicide ramming attacks against B-29s.

Following the Japanese surrender, a small number of Ki-44s remained in both Chinese Nationalist and Chinese Communist service until the 1950s.

The He 262 was produced in a remarkably short period of time, following a Nazi Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM) design competition for a simple jet fighter that could (in theory) be flown by the young men of the Hitler Youth in defence of the homeland, after some basic flight training.

Heinkel’s design was ordered at the end of September 1944 and made its first flight just over 2 months later, on 6th Dec. Along with a BMW axial turbojet, the relatively simple design design featured small wings for speed, the first operational use of an ejector seat and was constructed mostly from wood to avoid the use of strategically important materials like aluminium that were in short supply. Construction was to take place within the vast secret underground cave factory complexes at Salzburg, Hinterbruhl and the Kohnstein “Mittelwerk”, and was intended to reach 2000 per month by April 1945.

Performance was excellent, with a remarkable top speed of 490 knots at height, albeit with limited fuel carriage resulting in a short duration for each mission and armament consisted of two 20mm cannon.  

The He-162’s actual combat success during its very short period of operational service was limited, although post-war assessments showed that its potential was very real.  Although never really suitable for use by pilots with basic training, in the numbers planned, if it had been available 6 months earlier it could have posed a real threat to the Allied bomber offensive.

This is a very simple kit, typical of its era and first issued in 1970.  Following the demise of FROG and the transfer of most of the company’s moulds to the USSR, this along with FROG’s  other Axis model kits was  passed to Revell, who have issued it on two subsequent occasions.  As expected of its age and origin, it has a reasonable overall shape, but includes no cockpit, plus “see through” engine and undercarriage bays.  Its main gear legs are also rather weakly attached and struggle to support the weight of the completed kit.  The kit I have built here came as a bag of dirty bits for a few pounds, with no instructions but some useable decals.  However, the FROG header shown above genuinely comes from my first ever build of this kit back in the mid 1970s when I really did pay 20p for it, from the post office in Largo Bay, Fife, if I remember correctly!  

This is another well moulded early Hasegawa kit  (apparently from the 1970s!) which can still hold its own with any modern moulding.  It’s an easy build with no vices, although in typical Hasegawa style, its cockpit is very sparse and decals are a mixed blessing, being a little too thick and unstretchy for my linking.  I also found the cockpit framing a little vague and looking at other builds on the internet, I can see I’m not the only one.

This issue came with 4 decal options covering two different versions of the type. I chose the aircraft of ace pilot Captain Yoshio Yoshido, along with its 6 prominent B-29 kill markings.

Apart from that, there is really little to say except- shake and make!


Have a look at many more Japanese and German models on my Adversaries Model pages:

Three different boxings of this kit

Above:  a preserved He 162 at the RAF Museum, Cosford.  

Below,: one of 3 underground factories producing He 162s  (Bundesarchiv, Bild 141-2737 / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Rather like the Volksjager above, the Ki-44 Shoki (named after a Japanese mythological hero) was introduced to counter the threat from high flying bombers. Rather unusually for  a Japanese fighter design, it emphasised pure speed over manoeuvrability, with small wings giving a very high landing speed that caused serious difficulties for inexperienced pilots.